ASEAN ‘at a loss for ideas’ on Myanmar crisis: ex-Indonesian minister

ASEAN's diversity on Myanmar shouldn't divide the bloc, says ex-Indonesian minister

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Myanmar migrant employees hold a picture of Aung San Suu Kyi throughout the march to mark International Labor Day in Bangkok, requiring the employees rights and objecting versus the Myanmar military federal government on May 1, 2023.

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Southeast Asian countries should embrace a cohesive position on Myanmar’s civil dispute and the ASEAN top is an opportunity for leaders to “recalibrate,” Marty Natalegawa, Indonesia’s previous foreign minister informed CNBC.

“I get the sense that ASEAN is at a loss for ideas … one can speak with eloquence about one individual member state’s wish to happen in Myanmar. But first and foremost, we need to have a common ASEAN position,” he informed CNBC’s JP Ong on “Street Signs Asia.”

The 43 rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations top began in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on Tuesday, with Myanmar’s political crisis and the South China Sea conflicts set to control conversations.

The 10- country bloc is comprised of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

This is the 2nd year in a row that Myanmar was not welcomed to the local conference, following the military coup in February 2021 which saw its chosen leader Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi ousted from power.

At the minute, I’m advised more about the departments instead of the unity … this is not just a base test for ASEAN, however in my view is an existential danger to ASEAN.

Marty Natalegawa

Indonesia’s previous foreign minister

Natalegawa stated that while it is good the junta is omitted from the conferences, ASEAN member states have actually ended up being “a little bit divided” over the previous year in resolving Myanmar’s lengthened civil strife.

The bloc has actually long run on the concept of non-interference to guarantee sovereignty of member states, however some nations prompted the bloc to take bolder action.

Malaysia, for instance, required the imposition of “strong” procedures versus Myanmar’s judgment generals, according to a Reuters report last month.

“At the moment, I’m reminded more about the divisions rather than the unity … this is not only a litmus test for ASEAN, but in my view is an existential threat to ASEAN,” Natalegawa included.

In April 2021, Myanmar’s junta chief Min Aung Hlaing and the other 9 ASEAN countries reached an arrangement on the Five-Point Consensus, which required the instant cessation of violence in Myanmar, and discussion amongst the celebrations included.

Myanmar’s military administration, nevertheless, has actually not executed the peace strategy– regardless of consenting to it 2 months after the democratic federal government was toppled by the coup.

‘ A la carte regionalism’

Another concern that might check the capability of ASEAN to function as a cohesive bloc is the conflict in the South ChinaSea

“Some ASEAN member states in dispute feel that they are not being provided a common ASEAN home, so as if they are left on their own devices to deal with this issue,” stated Natalegawa.

We needs to not permit nations like the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei … [to] feel that their security requirements are being unmet by ASEAN.

Marty Natalegawa

Indonesia’s previous foreign minister

Just recently, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam turned down China’s newest South China Sea map, which represented its claims to sovereignty.

The brand-new map of its greatly objected to U-shaped line cuts into the unique financial zones of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.

“We needs to not permit nations like the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei … [to] feel that their security requirements are being unmet by ASEAN,” Natalegawa included.

“Otherwise, we will have an a la carte regionalism. People will pick and choose the bit of regional cooperation they like.”